Detection of precursor Th cells in mesenteric lymph nodes after oral immunization with protein antigen and cholera toxin
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We have characterized the earliest antigen-specific Th cells in murine mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN), following oral immunization with the hen egg lysozyme (HEL) as antigen and cholera toxin (CT) as adjuvant. We did this by analyzing in vitro proliferation and cytokine production in response to HEL by the MLN T cells. MLN cells taken 5 days after a single oral immunization with HEL and CT provided the earliest source of proliferating HEL-specific T cells. This proliferation was completely inhibited by anti-IL-2, but not inhibited by anti-IL-4 antibody. IL-2 protein was detected in culture supernatants but not IL-4 using ELISA or bioassays. IL-4 mRNA was not found in responding cells using RT-PCR. Some of the day 5 MLN cultures produced IFN-gamma in response to HEL, but isolated T cells from the same MLN did not. Exogenous IL-4 alone did not stimulate day 5 MLN T cells, but IL-4 did synergize with HEL to induce a large proliferative response. The data indicate that the HEL-specific CD4 T cell pool in MLN 5 days after oral immunization is composed of undifferentiated precursor Th cells. These cells have the potential for IL-2 production and IL-4R expression upon re-stimulation in vitro.
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